Saturday, June 15, 2013


Last Friday I (Aaron) was asked to lead the monthly "God Spot" devotional time at the Young People's hang-out time at the Ashton church. More specifically, they asked me to talk about love.

Talking to teenagers about love (divine, fraternal, romantic, or otherwise) can be tricky. :)
"First, let's talk about what this is not: This is not a talk about 'romantic love.' (Several girls looked disappointed; several guys looked slightly relieved.) This is not a discussion about 'what love isn't' (which seemed to confuse them), nor is it a talk about 'how pop culture gets it wrong.' (This made more sense to them when I pointed out examples like Twilight).

"What we are going to talk and read and pray and think about tonight is this: 'How much God loves us, and how we are called to love God and others.'"

Next, we prayed. Always important, perhaps never more so than when speaking to teenagers about love. :)

Then we watched this YouTube video from SoulPancake:

Next we talked about four key questions, each supported by group discussion and a few appropriate (and sometimes surprising) Bible verses:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world..."
1 John 3:1 "Behold what manner of love the Father hath given..."

Romans 5:6-8 "But God demonstrates his own love..."
I John 4:7-12 "Beloved, let us love one another..."

Matthew 22:34-40 "Love the Lord your God...and your yourself."
Matthew 5:43-48 "Love your enemies..."

I Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient..."
John 15:9-14, 17 "Love each other as I have loved you..."

We concluded the discussion with this thought:
"God loves us with a fierce, driving, passionate, all-forgiving love...and it's this kind of love that calls us to love God and our neighbors and ourselves! And we're all going to struggle with that in different ways. 

"For some of us, it's loving God; for some of us, it's loving others; for some of us, it's loving ourselves. But we are all God's children -God's Beloved- and we are all loved and called to love."

Then we watched this video:

We finished with prayer...prayers thanking God for his love, confessing our unworthiness, and expressing our gratitude. Prayers giving God permission to work in and through and with us to bring about his kingdom here on earth.

Prayers for our friends and family and neighbors and co-workers and classmates who don't know God, and asking that they might glimpse him through us

Prayers of love.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Have You Eaten Today?

Pastor Carl showed this video at Ashton Church of the Nazarene last Sunday night, and to be honest I think it wrecked us a little:

Here are a few things that particularly stood out:

"I keep seeing this bumper sticker that's popular where I live. It says, 'God Bless America.' Every time I see one, I think, 'God has. God has blessed America.' America has around 6% of the world's population, but we consume over 40% of its resources. The point isn't, "How can God bless America more?' The point is, 'How can America bless others?

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share..." -1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NIV) 

"Have you eaten today?

"Because somewhere around like 800 million people won't eat today.
Like 300 million of them are kids. 

"Every couple seconds, somebody dies from hunger.

"For the rest of the world...our life is the commercial, our stuff is the catalog, we're the picture in the advertisement.

"Let's be honest. It's easy to go to a church service, it's easy to read the Bible, it's easy to discuss who believes what and who's right and who's wrong. It's easy.

"But when Jesus talks about his followers, he talks about people who are generous, people who clothe the naked, take food to the hungry, take water to the thirsty, people who visit the prisoner, people who invite the stranger in, people who give their time, people who give their energy, people who give their money."


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

God's Missionary: Holy, Loving, Lowly

I (Aaron) have spent a great deal of time this week working in the Nazarene Theological College archives.  While sorting through the Rev. Dr. James B. Maclagan collection, I came across an absolute gem of a pamphlet by missions legend Amy Carmichael titled "God's Missionary."

A few of the most convicting and inspiring excerpts are below:

"This writing is not meant for old, experienced missionaries who long agao have made up their minds concerning the questions discussed. It is only meant as a little word offered in all humility to younger fellow-missionaries who have not made up their minds.

"Comrades in this solemn fight, this awful conflict with awful powers, let us settle it as something that cannot be shaken; we are here to live holy, loving, lowly lives. We cannot do this unless we walk very, very close to our Lord Jesus...

"If this message should reach a new recruit, one would say the same word, only turning it a little: Will you not wait upon your Lord before you come out, and every day there-after from the first hour on board ship onwards, asking Him to keep you, as we ask Him now to keep us?..."

"There is the social entanglement: such and such things are expected of us, and we cannot do what is required in this direction, and at the same time get the quiet we know we must secure if we are to go on in strength and in calmness of spirit.... There are the late hours, simple enough to those whose duties do not call them up at dawn; but for those who, to have any sort of undisturbed quiet, must not only be up by dawn but awake the dawn, quite another matter...Quiet time - the word is vital."

"And there is the entanglement of over-work. Who has not known it? The more we love our work, the keener we are to do it well, or the more the burden of souls unreached weighs upon our hearts, the greater our joy in reaching them, the subtler the form this entangling peril takes, and the more likely we are to slip into it before we are aware."

"We can never know [another] people -it is fallacious to imagine we can do so- while we find out chief recreation to be an escape from their companionship into the society of our fellow [Americans]. The people of the land are keenly observant: they mark our preferences in the choice of friends, as in everything else; if we find our rest and pleasure in being away from them, will they open out to us and let us understand them?

"No, we shall be further away from them than we know, and however affectionate they are, there will always be a certain reserve in their confidence, unrecognized by us, perhaps, because we are not near enough to them to know it exists."

"'Lord, Thou knowest: Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee. But because I am as yet weak in love and imperfect in virtue, therefore I do stand in need of being strengthened and comforted by Thee. Wherefore visit me again and again; and instruct me by all holy discipline.

"Free me from evil passions and heal my heart of all inordinate affections; that, being inwardly healed and thoroughly cleansed, I may become fit to love, strong to suffer, constant to persevere.'"


Sunday, June 2, 2013

This Misty Lowland: A Confession

"O God, I have tasted thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.

"I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the triune God, I want to want thee; I long to be filled with they longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.

"Show me thy glory, I pray, so that I may know thee more indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.'

"Then give me grace to rise and follow thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.

"In Jesus' Name. Amen."
-A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Beauty of Ordinary Time

"The period after Pentecost is known by a variety of names: Kingdomtide, Whitsuntide, the Season after Pentecost, and more recently, especially by Roman Catholics, Ordinary Time.

"However, there is nothing ordinary about this period of the Christian calendar. There continues to be a distinct emphasis upon telling the redemption story in all its fullness as the church gathers to remember how God has come, is coming, and will come again to redeem humankind and all creation (Romans 8:19-23).

"The church especially remembers in worship and deeds the truth that God dwells within the body of Christ and within the believer. Through the Holy Spirit, God companions, directs, and gives power, wisdom, courage, and faith to believers and the church for living obediently.

"Therefore the church - gathered and dispersed - not only represents God but also in a real way embodies God to the world. Christians seek to bring justice, peace, and love to every situation because we embody the very God we worship.

"No day can be ordinary when God dwells within. Every day is seen as blessed an holy, filled with opportunity and grace for all who put their trust in God." -Norman Sawchuck and Reuben P. Job, eds., A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God